It's pay day at the O2 tonight as the 2018 Premier League Darts season concludes with two mouthwatering semi-finals before the final itself. Wayne Mardle is here to preview the action...
"This is a big deal for Smith and I'm thinking it may be one step to far to say he'll win the whole shebang."
It's finals night, the playoffs, trophy day, whatever you want to call it, it's going to be fantastic.
The Semi finals are best of 19 legs. The final is the best of 21 legs.
Anderson can win battle of the buddies
Gary has been the Premier League champ twice, and on both those occasions he qualified from the league phase in third position. Just saying. Haha.
Anderson has also found himself in the playoffs for the last five years. Some record in today's darting climate.
Smith has grown and grown in this year's league phase. The boy and the inexperienced looking one has been outed and taken over by a man who knows what it takes to win games from any position.
Michael will need another gear to lift the trophy. This is one humongous challenge for him, I just hope he relaxes and just plays, just like he has for the last 15 weeks of play.
This is only Smith's second semi-final of a big stage event, the first being the Grand Slam of Darts three years ago. This is a big deal for Smith and I'm thinking it may be one step to far to say he'll win the whole shebang.
He can beat anyone on his day, that's fact, he has beaten the very best the world has to offer.
This game is all about Gary in my opinion. If Anderson plays well he beats Michael Smith. Smith has only beaten Gary once in the last fours years and that was on the opening night of the group phase games when Gary could hardly stand. Gary's back problems were so bad there was talk of him pulling out.
Gary got revenge and then some on the return leg, beating smith 7-2.
These two are real close buddies but Gary is very good at getting on with the job.
I predict this game will go the way of the favourite, Gary, if not after some heart stopping moments for the Scot. Michael is so improved I can't predict he'll get railroaded out of the O2 without a good showing. Like in many games against Gary, I expect Michael to come up short.
Smith will need to keep close order and then strike on the double bed. His doubling and timing throughout the Premier League have been sensational. He'll need all that timing and precision to overcome the twice world champ and twice Premier League champ.
MVG to beat World Champ comfortably
These two have only ever met in one semi-final before... and what a match! You must recall the World Championship semi final, it was extraordinary, it was pulsating, captivating, and impossible to call until the very last dart was thrown by Rob into double eight. Incredible scenes!
Since that match Michael has beaten Rob 7-2 twice. Firmly putting to bed that World Championship defeat.
This is Rob's Premier League debut. If he could win this on debut just like he did the World Championship, it would be an absolutely improbable feat. Winning darts tournaments when the likes of MVG and Anderson are in them you have to be a bit special.. and Cross is.
The way MVG has played against Cross the last two occasions tells me enough about Michael, it tells me he thinks Rob is a danger but it also tells me he thinks he has the beating of him. Relaxing against a world champ isn't easy, yet Van Gerwen seems unbothered by Cross nowadays.
We all know Michael has a talent that's so outrageously instinctive that the matches he plays in can seem over before they've begun. His level of play on a daily basis is hard to deal with, even for the world champ.
I think MVG wins the Premier League this year, just like he has for the last two years, three times in total. So with that thought, I clearly think he beats Rob. What might surprise you is that I think he beats him comfortably.
In his two 7-2 defeats to the hands of Michael in the league phase, Rob looked and acted second best, Michael will have thought the same.
Don't show anything to the world number one.
I'm not going to ramble on about stats, but very much like the first semi final, Rob will need to be super efficient on the double segments to be competitive.
One more thing. MVG has left a 170 finish 17 times in 16 matches, hitting it only once, I'll be backing him to hit one against Rob at 17/2.